Kyokushin Karate

Kyokushin (極真) is a style of stand-up fighting and was founded in 1964 by Korean-Japanese Masutatsu Oyama (大山倍達 Ōyama Masutatsu). "Kyokushin" is Japanese for "the ultimate truth". It is rooted in a philosophy of self-improvement, discipline and hard training. Its full contact style has international appeal (practitioners have over the last 40+ years numbered more than 12 million).



Masutatsu Oyama was born on July 27, 1923 in a village not far from Gunsan, South Korea. At a relatively young age, he was sent to Manciuria, in southern China, to live on his sister's farm. At the age of nine, he began to study the southern Chinese form of the Kempo style under the guidance of Yi master, who was employed at the farm at that time. When Oyama returned to Korea, he continued his training studying Korean Kempo. In 1938, at the age of 15, he left for Japan, with the intention of enrolling in a military school and becoming a pilot. The attempt did not succeed, however, because at that time life in Japan was not exactly easy, and the dream of becoming a pilot on a military plane passed in the background.

At Funakoshi's school

However, Oyama did not give up training. He began boxing and judo, and on one occasion brought sosai into the dojo of Gichin Funakoshi at Takushoku University. At the age of 17, his progress was incredible, reaching the black belt with 2 dan, and at the age of 20, when he enlisted in the Imperial Army, he already had 4 dan. During this period, Oyama also stopped judo training.

So Nei Chu
The defeat of Japan and the prospect of a military occupation brought Oyama into a state of utter despair. During this period, Oyama meets So Nei Chu, another Korean teacher from his home province and who was an authority in Japan in Goju Ryu. The Master was well known for his physical strength and strength of spirit. So Nei Chu is the one who guided Oyama to devote his life to martial arts. He was also the one who advised Oyama to retire for three years in the mountains to perfect his art.
Training on the mountain At the age of 23, Mas Oyama met Eiji Yoshikawa, the author of the novel Musashi, based on the life and adventures of the most famous Japanese samurai. The novel and the author have had an overwhelming influence on him, introducing him to a fascinating world, that of the samurai and into a code that he will respect all his life, Bushido. Less than a year after meeting Yoshikawa in 1948, Oyama visits Minobu Mountain in Chiba Prefecture, where Musashi developed his sword art, with the intention of spending the next three years studying martial arts. Along with him, a pupil of his, Yashiro, also went up, but after six months, because of the loneliness and difficult training, he gives up mentally and leaves Oyama. After
more than a year and a half, the sponsor who sent him food announced Oyama that he could no longer finance him, so the training period on the mountain was over. A few months later, in 1947 Mas Oyama won the first National Martial Arts Championship after the Second World War. Dissatisfied with the fact that he had to give up training on the mountain, Oyama decided to dedicate his life to martial arts and resumed a training period where he practiced 12 hours a day on Mount Kiyozumi in Chiba Prefecture. Also in this period begins an in-depth study of Zen, which he considers to be an integral part of Karate, declaring: "Karate is Zen".

Exit to the world

In 1950 Oyama began a series of demonstrations aimed at showing the world the power of Kyokushin. In a tournament started in the United States, Oyama will start a tournament during which he broke bricks with bare hands, broke the neck of the bottles with shuto, but especially faced 47 bulls and broke their horns, and managed to kill four of them. In 1957, in Mexico, Oyama was about to be killed during a fight with a bull who managed to injure him and spent six months in the hospital. During this period, because most of the battles they engaged in were over within seconds, often after a single blow, he acquired the nickname "Godhand". The Japanese used to say about Oyama: "Ichi geki, hissatsu", which means "a blow, sure death". Also during this period, Oyama met Shihan Jacques Sandulescu, the Romanian with whom he would be friends until the end of his days.

The first dojo
In 1953, Mas Oyama inaugurated his first dojo on a plot in Mejiro, Tokyo. In 1956, in a ballet studio behind Rikkyo University, Oyama would gather under his guidance no fewer than 700 students. Practitioners of other styles used to come to this dojo for sparring, and Oyama and his students tried to take from them techniques that proved useful in the fight. Thus Kyokushin evolved and developed into the martial art that is today.


The challenge

In 1964, Thai boxing fighters challenged the Japanese to a meeting with five of them, and Oyama accepted. Three of his students win against the Thais and thus Oyama once again proves Kyokushin's supremacy. In the same year, the headquarters of Kyokushinkai Kan headquarters are laid. The first world championship Oyama's idea of gathering in one championship the world's most powerful fighters has generated an extraordinary phenomenon. The first world championship held in 1975 in Tokyo was an extraordinary success. Practitioners of other styles who came to the competition were almost eliminated in the first rounds. Since then, every four years, the Japanese organize a World Championship in the Land of the Rising Sun, where the best fighters from each country where Kyokushin is practiced are invited. And simply participating in such an event is an honor for any fighter from anywhere in the world. On April 26, 1994, Masutatsu Oyama dies of lung cancer. Following the death, the Kyokushin International Organization is divided into several factions.